Roger Federer still has “plenty of greatness” left in him, according to his now-former coach.
Paul Annacone, whose 3½-year partnership with the Swiss star ended recently, told USA Today that he’d be surprised if the 32-year-old Federer didn’t add to his total of 17 Grand Slam titles.
“Greatness doesn’t stop,” Annacone said. “It doesn’t just go away. He’s not all of a sudden now not that good anymore. The problem is that the expectations and the bar are so high.”
Federer is 36-13 this year with one title and a number of losses to lower-ranked players. He has slipped to No. 7, and this is the first year since 2002 that he hasn’t made a major final. He’s battling to secure a spot in the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals.
“Whenever you start to doubt people like this, you kind of set yourself up to get your own foot stuck in your mouth,” Annacone told USA Today. “They’re atypical. They’re phenoms. As much as Roger still loves to play, the exuberance he still shows in every practice, his desire to continue to enjoy the game — I can’t imagine anything other than success coming his way. For me, it’s not a matter of if. It’s a matter of when.”
In his first tournament since the U.S. Open, Federer lost to Gael Monfils last week in the third round of the Shanghai Masters. Federer announced the split with Annacone on his website Saturday.
“When we started together, we had a vision of a 3-year plan to win another Grand Slam title and get back to the number #1 ranking,” the statement read. “Along with many other goals and great memories, these 2 main goals were achieved. After numerous conversations culminating at the end of our most recent training block, we felt like this was the best time and path for both of us. Paul remains a dear friend, and we both look forward to continuing our friendship. I want to thank Paul for his help and the value he has added to me and my team.”
Annacone, who also coached Pete Sampras and Tim Henman, said he was looking forward to watching Federer rebound from “a bumpy road” in 2013.
“He’s at an interesting time in his career where there is plenty of greatness left,” Annacone said. “He just has to put the pieces of the puzzle together.”